From Preacher's Son to Pot Pioneer
October 6, 2015 | By Peter Story, President & Co-Founder
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I am a medical marijuana patient. You probably wouldn’t know it by looking at me. If you passed by me on the street, you probably wouldn’t know that I was someone who had a lot of THC in his system. But how would you? What does a medical marijuana patient look like? Nowadays, with all the different kinds of medicines available, marijuana patients are starting to represent all walks of life. Marijuana patients are now becoming your grandmother, your uncle … your child. When I discovered that marijuana could relieve a lot of the symptoms of a nerve disorder I was battling, it changed my life. No longer did I have to take $100/bottle prescription meds that did nothing but turn my forehead into fish scales. No longer did I have to talk to vascular surgeons about whether or not severing or clamping the nerve was a less risky operation. I was getting amazing relief from this fantastical plant and, best of all, I was finding out that I could finally do it legally!
Like most LA residents, I’m a transplant. I grew up in rural towns in Oklahoma. My father was a Methodist minister and I spent a good portion of my life hearing how sinful marijuana was. I was warned to avoid it or suffer the consequences of it "ruining my life"--much like it had a distant relative.
I was a pretty well behaved kid growing up. I avoided all drugs and alcohol throughout high school and didn't even try marijuana or alcohol until I was away from home in college. I drank no more or less than the average college student and tried marijuana a few times recreationally. Fast forward to 2003 when I finally made that Grapes of Wrath journey out to California to find work.
Battling a nerve disorder called hyperhidrosis that had plagued me my entire life, I began to notice in California that when I smoked cannabis, many of the symptoms disappeared. I was in amazement. I had been on $100/bottle prescriptions and met with vascular surgeons, seriously considering dangerous surgeries to try and alleviate my condition which was severely affecting my social and professional life. Now I had organic plant material that was not addictive to me in any way and seemed to have no negative side effects other than increased hunger and occasional drowsiness. That's when I began to understand cannabis as a miraculous medicine.
Years later a friend would mention (re: marijuana) “You know, you can see a doctor for that. Get a card. Then it’s legal.” Coming from the conservative, bible-belt background I did, I definitely wanted to be on the up-and-up so I looked into the process. Strangely, it became more complex the better I tried to understand it. I found out that LA, in particular, is considered the “Wild West” of medical marijuana. There are only about 140 dispensaries that are legally allowed to operate in the City of Los Angeles. However, there are an estimated 400+ operating right now. And there isn’t a single website that helps patients know the difference. There is a list that was published by the city years ago, but I’ve found it to be inaccurate and outdated. It was this conundrum that led me to Pete Lamptey.
Pete was the roommate of a friend of mine and we quickly hit it off, especially after we discovered that we were both patients. Both of us commiserated over our findings and experiences navigating the process and how complicated we both found it to be. Why wasn’t there a single website out there that would help us know if we were walking into a legal establishment to buy our medicine or we were possibly giving our money to a drug cartel? Not only that but, if it was this complicated for us — two guys in their 30s who are relatively tech savvy — how difficult must this process be for a 55 year old breast cancer patient? How difficult must it be for a Veteran battling severe PTSD? That’s when we decided to build Hopegrown.
Hopegrown.org is a website built FOR patients, BY patients. Pete and I have managed to assemble a team of teachers, artists, doctors and concerned individuals who have worked tirelessly over the past 4 years (pro bono) to make this website a success. Some of them use cannabis, some don’t. But all are committed to providing an online resource that doesn’t make patients feel like they’re doing something criminal. We’ve also developed standards so that you can be sure that when you visit a Doctor or a Provider listed with us, it’s a place you’d send your mom to.
For me, personally, Hopegrown itself had to be altruistic in nature. In order for me to look at my deeply religious family and tell them what kind of business I was starting and feel proud, I had to develop a website that existed to truly help people. I am proud to announce that when I finally confessed to my family my use of cannabis and my work to build Hopegrown, it was received openly by my family. They quickly understood that I had done my research and made educated decisions and they respected that fact. They also understood how difficult my battle with hyperhidrosis had been and they knew that I had tried practically every remedy on the planet without any success. They wanted me to be healthy. They wanted me to be happy. And they were beginning to understand that medical marijuana did both.
In its simplest form, this website we built functions as a Finder and an educational resource. By simply entering your location (zip, address, etc) you can be directed to the closest legal medical marijuana Doctor or Provider and when you check out our New Patient Pathway, you’ll find our unique, interactive page where new patients or people who are trepidatious about marijuana can read info blogs or watch helpful animated videos.
But Hopegrown is more than a website. It’s a movement. It's a chance for like-minded patients to stand up as a community and fight for the rights of Los Angeles patients and patients across the country. Patients should be protected from illegal operations and they should be given helpful information on how to improve their health safely with marijuana medicines. Thank you for your interest in our website and we appreciate any efforts you take to spread the word that we exist and we are a website built to serve. Questions or concerns? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know your thoughts...